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British Lit - John Gay's The Beggar's Opera

by: Kimberly Burke

British Lit - John Gay's The Beggar's Opera EH 203

Marketplace > Jacksonville State University > Foreign Language > EH 203 > British Lit John Gay s The Beggar s Opera
Kimberly Burke
Jacksonville State University
GPA 4.0

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These are my in class notes on Beggar's Opera.
Survey of English Literature I
Dr. Gates
Class Notes
John Gay, Beggar's Opera
25 ?




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kimberly Burke on Tuesday April 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to EH 203 at Jacksonville State University taught by Dr. Gates in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Survey of English Literature I in Foreign Language at Jacksonville State University.

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Date Created: 04/12/16
British Lit – Beggar’s Opera  Characters o Beggar – author of the opera, proud man of the streets, introduces the piece with Player, reappears in last scene to discuss & revise the ending o Crook-Finger’d Jack – criminal in Macheath’s gang o Filch – lesser henchman to Peachum, confidant of Polly & Mrs. Peachum, does not keep secrets well, Peachum’s errand boy o Jemmy Twitcher – criminal in Macheath’s gang o Lockit – Lucy’s father, jailer of Newgate prison, Peachum’s partner o Lucy Lockit – Macheath’s jilted ex-lover, hates Macheath for ruining her without marrying her, keeps trying to win him back at Polly’s expense o Macheath – ladies’ man, highway robber, marries Polly Peachum before the play begins, not faithful, modeled after Jonathan Wild, fathered 4 children by 4 women o Matt of the Mint - criminal in Macheath’s gang, closest to Macheath, gives a rousing speech about the relationship between thieving & redistribution of wealth, “fill every glass” o Peachum – Polly’s father, runs a criminal highwayman syndicate, Lockit’s partner, sends men to gallows for reward money o Mrs. Peachum – Peachum’s wife, Polly’s mother, rarely emotional o Mrs. Coaxer - one of the women in Peachum’s gang, companion to Macheath, Macheath is a client of hers o Diana Trapes – one of the women in Peachum’s gang, companion to Macheath, top of the female gang hierarchy, smart o Mrs. Slammerkin - one of the women in Peachum’s gang, companion to Macheath o Mrs. Vixen - one of the women in Peachum’s gang, companion to Macheath o Jenny Diver - one of the women in Peachum’s gang, companion to Macheath, conspires with Suky Tawdry & Peachum to entrap Macheath, turns Macheath in o Player – Beggar’s friend & proponent, helps introduce the play, reappears to discuss & revise the ending o Polly Peachum – Macheath’s wife, lovesick, devoted to Macheath, naïve & self-obsessed, poisons Lucy Lockit o Suky Tawdry - one of the women in Peachum’s gang, companion to Macheath, conspires with Jenny Diver & Peachum to entrap Macheath  Real People o Nell Gwyn – mistress of King Charles II, Restoration actress o Arabella Fermor – starred in Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, her fiancé broke off their engagement by stealing a lock of her hair o Robert Walpole – 1 Earl of Oxford o John (Jack) Sheppard – thief, caused the decline of Wild o Jack Ketch – real highway man – pg.2801 o Jonathan Wild – model for Macheath o William Hogarth – painter/artist, pg. 2835  Definitions o Cart – to be carried away to hanging o Peach – to inform someone, turn informer, to inform against o Reprieve – to hold back, to postpone punishment, grant temporary relief from danger/pain  Characterized as the most successful subversive drama in English  Contains a veiled political critique  Other examples: A Game of Chess (1620s) by Thomas Middleton, Macbird (LBJ & Ladybird as the Macbeths) o Burlesque parodies, other formats  The tune is well known; lyrics are newly written to adapt to the situation within the play o Example: Menopause the Musical, Sesame Street’s Stars and Stripes  Beggar’s Opera Questions o Just as the play “turns” at the end to celebrate a reprieve (after preparing for Macheath’s hanging), so do specific scenes have a divided twists in them, most notable is the scene where Macheath is turned in by Jenny & other women o Compare/contrast the strategies of undercutting or reversal in the last scene & one other o Look at Lucy trying to poison/drug Polly in Act 3, scenes 7-10  Polly & Macheath have an affair, but Macheath has had plenty of affairs before  Jenny wants the reward for turning Macheath in; Peachum is trying to turn him in  Macheath has past affair with Lucy – causes rivalry, one tries to poison th eother


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